prior to 1865

Extracted and Compiled by  © Sue Ashby, 2001 - present

Updated 06/18/2010

The W.P.A. in the 1920's did many things that we, as genealogists benefit from, today. They build roads, bridges and dams. But, they also surveyed cemeteries, inventoried courthouses and churches.
This is an attempt to place for your benefit, the lists that were made in Chatham. They established the date (approximate, in some cases) the church was built, what kind of material is was made of, what kind of condition it is in, if it was the original church, and  who the pastor/priest/preacher/minister,  was at that time and where, they were located. In some pages there are even the number of parishioners.
Even though there aren't a lot of names for you to connect to, if you have an ancestor who was one of these Church leaders or you know that your folks attended a certain church, this will tell you when and where. The dates of the survey are not known nor written down. 


The below is information obtained from the book "PLEASANT HILL METHODIST CHURCH" - by Grace Green Tyson, compiled before 1965.

The book gives short histories of other churches in the area:
BROWN'S CHAPEL M. E. CHURCH    in the Pittsboro Circuit.
Founded by Dr. Gaston Egbert Brown, when he first came to Chatham Co. NC in July of 1848.
He had rented a farm in the Silk Hope Community for a year. In the fall of that year a brush arbor camp meeting was conducted in the are of what is now known as Brown's Chapel Church.
A group was organized and met in an old log building called "Lebanon" near what is now known as the Noah Mixon home. Later a building was built on the ground near the present church and it was named after Dr. Brown. The building was used until 1883.


This church was erected and then a deed conveying 3 acres of land on which it was standing, was deeded by Robert P. Alston, on July 24, 1856.
The trustees that were appointed were:
Junius A. Alston, Oliver McMath, J. E. Nettles, George Rogers, William Fike, R. N. (Robert Nathaniel) Green, G. E. (Gaston Egbert) Brown, Obediah Henderson and Samuel B. Perry.
Robert Alston donated the first Bible to the church.
Early members were:
Gideon Alston and his wife Adeline, Peggy Cotton, Margaret Long, Ana Maria Alston, wife of Robert P. Alston and George Rogers and his wife.
Rev. Wm. Barringer was the first pastor. He married Louania Alston, daughter of John Alston. Barringer was afterward president of the Greensboro Female College. The second pastor was Mr. teillett, then Dr. W. H. Moore, whose home was about a mi. West of Pittsboro. Then Rev. Gattis and Rev. Stephenson. Also, a Dr. Sanford was a pastor.


In the Deed Books B-C, pg. 511 and B-O, pg. 111 are the deeds dated in Mar. of 1885 from Thomas Bland and his wife, who deed 1/2 acres of land for this church. The trustees were:
Dr. Thomas w. Harris, William Y. Comble, H. C. Clegg, S. T. Womble, George Thomas, C. W. Womble and Wesley Knight.
Then, the heirs of Isaac Clegg made deed to one an 1/4 acres of land to the Chatham Church. The heirs were A. J. Clegg, L. Turner, Kate E. Turner, I. N. Clegg, Bnj. F. Clegg, Mary M. Clegg, Mary J. Burns, J. B. Burns and Nancy Harris.


Meroney's Methodist Church was founded in 1808 by deed for 1 1/2 acres, from Wm. B. Meroney and Boling Hines for the land to build the church. The deed was registered on Feb. of 1814.
The trustees were: Thomas Ragland (who was also the county clerk), Micagah McGee, James Gaines, Wm. Raglan, Edwards Rives and Thomas Brooks.
Edwards Rives was b. in VA in 1775 and came with his parents to Chatham Co.
There is a romantic story, of the daughter of Edwards Rives in which, the thirteen year old daughter Martha Ann "Patsy" Rives and her mother went to a church service across Rocky River, at Bethlehem Church, in 1819. After the service, as they were going home they were riding along and followed on the way home,  by Joseph John Goldston who must have been smitten by Patsy.  He is said to have leaned over his saddle and  asked her to married him on the spot. She whispered "tell later" and the later, became a wedding on Nov. 15, 1821.


According to some of the stories, this church probably dates prior to the Revolutionary War. No one knows precisely when or what the denomination was. But, it sat about 2 mi. W. of Pleasant Hill Methodist Church.  There is a cemetery about 4 or 5 hundred years away, all on the S. side of the road. Most of the graves have not inscriptions left on them But, there are five with inscriptions.
The oldest is of Joseph H. Burke, B. June 10, 181, d. Oct 2, 1842. The other four are of Henry W. Burke, Martha S. Burke, Robert D. Burke and Ann Robert Burke. the dates of birth and death, not given.
There was a second building build a hundred or more yeards east of the first building.

Pittsboro Methodist Church - J.D. Young
             Pittsboro Baptist Church
Located on Salisbury St, in Pittsboro. Organized in 1850. The first church burned in 1861.  New one built in 1862 of wood & brick. Has a bell, piano and furniture. First clergyman was Wm. A. Lineberry, whose tenure was 15 years. All early records, if any burned in 1862, during the Civil War by incendiaries, according to oral tradition. . Records of Baptisms have been kept since 1920.

               St. Bartholomew (Episcopal) - 1772 - R. G. Shannonhouse

                Hackneys Cross Roads -  R. R. Gordon

                Marleys Mills -

                Moons Chapel Baptist - 1849 - J.C. Canipe, Siler City
Located in Siler City. Organized in 1849. Present building was built in 1855. No church history, founded in an illiterate & poor neighborhood but, rich in character. The first clergyman ws C. Jones, whose tenure was 25 years. No. vital records kept. Sunday School records are kept at "Evergreen"?

Rural:     Shady Grove Baptist - 1823 - C.C. Wheeler, Merry Oaks
(Nothing known)

               Mt. Gilead Baptist - 1824
Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, located in Pittsboro, was organized in 1824. There was one church before the present one. The present church built in 1900. It is a wooden church, 30" X 50", wooden, with a balcony, well furnished and seated, with a bell and organ. Rev. O.C. Keller was the first Pastor, his tenure was 8 years. No written records of Minutes, Baptism, Marriages, Death or Burial records for the church exist.  Church was built on ground donated by Joshua Hackney, in 1820. The members are all planters and in good financial standing in the community.  Rev. R. R. Gordon, is the present pastor.

               Pleasant Hill Zion Christ (Christian?) - 1825 - ( no name)
(Nothing known)

               O'Kellys Chapel Christ ( Christian?)- 1825 (no name)
O'Kelly's Chapel is located on Highway 751 about a mile from the Durham County line. It was the first Christian church founded in North Carolina. James O'Kelly, a circuit rider and minister in the Methodist Episcopal church broke away from that church in 1790 after an argument with Francis Asbury over the latter's desire to be Bishop of the Methodist church. Other ministers left with O'Kelly, who found the first church (later called Christian) at Surry County in Virginia. O'Kelly's Chapel was the second church. (Founded in 1825. The present building is the third on the same site. The building was taken into the National Register of Historic Places, and it is used now, only for important occasions in the life of the denomination. Elon College was established about 1890 to teach Christian ministers, and all records of th church including those of O'Kelly's Chapel, are preserved in te Church History Room of the college library.

               Chatham Friends - 1793 (Quaker)

           South Fork Friends (Quaker) - 1793

               Rives Chapel Baptist - 1832 - O.A. Keller, Jonesboro
Located in Pittsboro. Organized in 1832. The present building, which is the second one, was dedicated in 1930. It is made of brick 30' X 50'. The first clergyman was  David Hackney, who started preaching at the age of 65 years. (He had been a member of the legislature from Chatham co., in 1830-1836. T.Y. Seymore was the pastor from 1920 to 1930.  In 1930 Rev. C.A. Doud, became pastor, whose tenure was 14 years. There are no vital records kept for this church, only financial records.  The church grounds were donated by Simeon Rives, one of the charter members and he endowed the church with $1000 at his death.
               Mays Chapel Baptist - 1802 - J.C. Kidd, Bennett

           Mineral Baptist - 1835 - H. H. Porter, Bonlee

           Emmaus Baptist - 1832 - R. R. Gordon

           Rock Spring Baptist - 1758 - (Second oldest Baptist Church in N.C. records since1817)

               Fall Creek Baptist - 1799 - J.C. Kidd, Bennett
Located in the Western part of the county. Organized in 1799. One building before the present one was built of hewn logs. It was rebuilt in 1868 of wood. It has a bell and tower. The first clergyman was Stephen Gilmore, whose tenure was 20 years. There are no records.

               Rocky River Baptist - 1757 - O.A. Keller, Jonesboro
Located in Siler City, near the headwaters of Rocky River.  Organized in 1757. There was one other building before the present one, built of hewn logs.  It was dedicated/consecrated in 1760. The church was rebuilt in 1848 of wood. There is no bell or bell tower. The first clergyman was Rev. James Savage, whose tenure was 20 years. No records of published church history known.

               Gum Spring - 1829 - T.Y. Semour

               Mt. Olive Baptist - 1834 - B. N. Guptin - Pittsboro (formerly Lick Creek)

               Deep River St. Marks Episcopal - 1847 - R.G. Shannonhouse

               Bear Creek Baptist - 1787 - J.C. Kidd, Bennett

               Tyson's Creek Baptist -
This church was organized in 1800. There has been only one building and it is poor condition. The church was dedicated or consecrated in 1805. The first clergyman was T. S. Townsend, who was pastor for 20 years. There are no records in existence.

               Presbyterian Church of Pittsboro -
Located on East Street in Pittsboro. It was organized in 1848 and dedicated/consecrated in 1849. It has not been rebuilt. The church is a brick building with bell tower and balcony. The bell came over from England. The first clergyman was Rev. James H. McNeill, whose tenure was from 1848-1852.
There are Minute Books. Minute Book I (1848-1922) and Minute Book II (1922-  ) These books include the Marriage, Baptisms, Death and Burial records. Also, financial records of the church. They are in good condition. (MY NOTE: You can be thankful, if you are of this church. You might find some records)

              Mt Zion Methodist Episcopal
Loacted 3 mi. South of Pittsboro. Organized in 1850. Original church still standing at the time of the survey. Made of wood, 25' X 40'. First clergyman was Joseph Martin, whose tenure was 8 years. One of the pastors was Abernethy Hill (doesn't give the dates). No records kept. Condition of the church is very poor. The church was built on land given by Luther Clegg in 1850. Has a good organ. The present pastor (at time of survey) is Rev. J.D. Young.